new york’s notorious rikers island finally to be replaced


at the end of 2021, the now former new york city mayor bill de blasio announced the six teams that will compete to design and build four ‘modern, smaller, and humane’ borough-based jails. the new facilities will replace rikers island, one of the world’s largest – and most notorious – correctional facilities. 


plagued by reports of violence, abuse, and mistreatment, the infamous rikers jail was originally planned to close in 2026. this latest press release on december 29, 2021, says the complex will close permanently in 2027.


‘new york city deserves a smaller, safer, and fairer jail system. that starts with building modern facilities – and getting off rikers island once and for all,’  said de blasio. ‘i’m proud to see borough-based jails continue to move forward, and I look forward to celebrating more progress as expert teams design and build these new facilities.’


‘the city’s commitment to closing rikers island permanently has never wavered,’  said the mayor’s office of criminal justice director marcos soler. ‘soon new yorkers will see active construction work throughout the city as we move ever-closer towards a new, improved justice system for all.’



the six teams


the manhattan and queens sites have already been awarded to two respective teams. in a joint venture, the gilbane building company and the alberici corporation have submitted their proposal for the manhattan jail. the final submission is due in the fall of 2022 and the project will move into design and construction in late 2023.


for the queens site, the new york city department of design and construction will issue an RFP (request for proposal) to the leon D. dematteis construction corp in summer 2022. the project is set to get underway in spring 2023.


the process for the brooklyn site will begin in spring this year. an RFP will be issued to two teams: one, a joint venture led by lend lease corporation and halmar international; another led by tutor perini corporation. project commencement is slated for winter 2022/23.


finally, for the bronx borough jail, two teams will receive RFPs this summer: transformative reform group, llc, led by SLSCO and sciame construction; and to cauldwell wingate 2022 company, llc. once a team is selected, work will commence on the facility in summer 2023.


although we have no details of what the new jails will look like, we do know that the city is looking for ‘humane facilities and innovative approaches to ensure efficient, cost-effective construction.’ the city of new york says the entire program will cost $8.2 billion, and site preparation at all four locations is to begin this january.


‘we had an exceptional response from the industry given the size and scope of this program,’  said tom foley, acting commissioner of the department of design and construction.‘the response gives us further confidence that we will be able to deliver on the promise of a more humane justice system for new york city, on-time and on-budget. we were particularly impressed with the teams’ commitment to the values and goals of the borough based jails program.’


‘the response from the design community is encouraging given the scale and importance of this incredible project,’  said department of correction commissioner vincent schiraldi. as an agency, we are eager to continue to safely reduce the jail population, move off the island and to be closer to communities, courts and services.’



main image courtesy of U.S. geological survey (via wikipedia commons)